I’ve have been engaged in cleaning out and organizing my studio since the beginning of the year. It was pretty messy, having not been tackled much during my super intense work at the end of the year. But it isn’t really taking that much time to take on that project; it’s just that I have a hard time sticking with a project like that when I have all the things I want to play with right there. All my art supplies and inspiration allured me as I was cleaning. I hate to admit it but every time things started to feel organized, I gave myself permission to be distracted by my art.

So much fun! It’s like sneaking under the covers & reading after bedtime. But big canvases wouldn’t fit under the covers, so I have been making a bunch of small pieces. Not really working under the covers, just caught up in my metaphor. ;0) I want to share my process on one of them.

Starting with a 10″ square cradled (framed out) board, it was time to play with all sorts of mixed media. I used three types, applying each in a band across the board.IMG_4057

On the bottom I used gesso, in the middle I knifed on acrylic ground for pastels using the knife a varied, choppy texture. Then on the top band, I applied plaster through stencils. I sanded them when they were dry to get rid of sharp edges

I liquified colors and floated them onto the board. I decided to start with colors along the same bands of texture I had. Adding that sunny green, I sprayed it so it would drip and integrate together.IMG_4205



I used my fingers to apply a golden color on the raised textures at the top. More color and drips start adding depth and dimension. It was interesting but it didn’t have enough definition for me. I decided it needed more contrast. So I added black. Wow-black! I am such a color person, with a grounding in watercolor, so I hardly ever use black, especially not in any large sections. This was pretty brave for me. IMG_4232.jpg

I painted around the raised elements in the top section and used black paint to begin defining the elements. I looked at it for quite a while before I went on to finish it. I needed some time realize how it should end up. Added more color in varying shades and tones, enriched the black and gave it sparkle with shiny cooper on the raised elements. Then the hard part was to give it a title (sometimes the hardest).  Decided on “Night Growth.”IMG_4339.jpg

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Happy New Year! May 2016 bring you love, joy, health and adventure!

I had a busy holiday season seeing friends and family, eating & drinking (too much), generally having a good time. I hope yours was enjoyable too. But I have found it a bit challenging to get back into the swing of everyday life.

After enjoying the commitment of posting everyday during November and creating an elephant every day for the month, I have decided to try it again. So I have been creating what I call a “noodle doodle” each day.


After enjoying the commitment of posting everyday during November and creating an elephant every day for the month, I have decided to try it again. So I have been creating what I call a “noodle doodle” each day.


All of the drawings were done in sketch books. Hence the spirals at the edge. Most are done in ink.


They are small, 6″ x 6″, 5″ x 7″ to 9″ x 12″.


Each one evokes a different feeling, a mood. the atmosphere at the end of the day.


For some, I added a touch of color. It amazes me what a difference a bit of color can make.


This all came out of my reading about the meditative value of coloring, which is, studies have shown, as calming to the mind as meditation.  Since these are similar to coloring pages I’ve designed, I wanted to see if these drawings would have the same effect. Having a problem sleeping recently, I like to listen to meditations to help me get to sleep. I wondered if these drawings would have the same result.

After doing the drawings before bed several nights, I found that sleep eluded me. Just making the drawings excited me. All of them were done intuitively, letting instinct and my right brain take over. I’m continuing my doodle a day, “noodle doodle” project but not before bed.

You can see the drawings as they get posted on Instagram instagram.com/artistkarenfriedland , Facebook Facebook.com/ArtistKarenF and Twitter twitter.com/ArtistKaren . Follow me there!

What do you think? Are they the beginning of bigger or more elaborate paintings? Is there the makings of a coloring book here? Or are they complete, just the way they are?


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This is a letter about a new initiate I have undertaken after visiting schools in Africa and never once seeing even a crayon. I feel that these children need and are entitled to a creative and artistic education. Please support this and share it!

A teacher in Malawi receives a box with 20 crayons. What is the first thing he does with them?

Answer: Break them all in half so each of his forty students has something to work with.

Think of your childhood-

What if you never used a crayon, never made a picture, never learned about colors or shapes?

This is what daily life is like for children in Africa. African classrooms brim with bright young children bursting to learn and make and do. But even basic classroom supplies are critically lacking throughout their school systems. When I visited Malawi, Namibia, and South Africa recently, I met schoolchildren just like those I taught at home in New York City. I saw their joy in dancing and singing, and heard the longing in their voices when I talked with them about the art I made.

Why couldn’t they paint too?

Of course they could! Back in the U.S., I teamed with educational psychologist Shayna Kalish and the globally recognized nonprofit organization, Books For Africa, to establish a new initiative: Arts for Africa.

Our mission: Bring basic art supplies found in American classrooms to our partner classrooms in Africa. Along with supplies, we will provide teachers with lesson plans and support.
Americans know how vital the arts are to a well rounded education. Your donation to Arts For Africa will help children

  • think creatively
  • collaborate
  • create
  • solve complex problems
  • gain self-confidence
  • have the joy of creative self-expression
With your help, we can make a difference! 100% of monetary donations go towards purchasing art supplies for African classrooms!

Your generous donations will go directly to the purchase of

  • pencils
  • paintbrushes
  • crayons
  • paper
  • all the rest needed for an art classroom!

Their teachers will partner with Arts for Africa on an arts curriculum in their classes.

Do you remember the thrill of gazing into a new box of crayons,  holding color in your hand, taking a pencil to paper or wielding a paintbrush ? Then you can select exactly the supplies you would like to give with our Amazon wish list and feel a direct connection to the African students with the gift of your selected art supplies. They are automatically sent to our Atlanta warehouse, and then, on to its African destination. Many items on the Amazon wish list have free shipping to our Atlanta warehouse. The cost of shipment to Africa is completely covered by Books For Africa, so 100% of your donations go to funding art supplies and art education in Africa, with zero administrative costs. Selecting your donations on Amazon is the next best thing to showing up at the school with a truckload of gift bags!
A targeted venture of Books for Africa, Arts For Africa is a BFA subsidiary with a joint mission to enhance education in Africa. Books For Africa has earned its 4th consecutive 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, and is a “Gold Participant” on the GuideStar Exchange. These ratings, the highest awarded by both organizations, show a great ability to efficiently manage and grow organizational finances. Since Arts for Africa is part of Books for Africa, a registered 501 (c)(3) charity, your contribution is fully tax deductible!
Your donation brings the joy of creative self-expression to children in Africa—one of the world’s great birthplaces of artistry. During this holiday season, as you buy gifts for those you care about, won’t you bring color, beauty, form and imagination into the hands of a waiting child?
Thank you for help and best wishes for the season,

Karen & Shayna, The Arts For Africa Team

WE NEED YOUR HELP! To help bring art making to children in Africa, please share this letter with your friends and on social media. To help in other ways, just email us!
Read Later
We are reaching out to our friends and family because Arts For Africa is a brand new initiative. Please sign up here for our official Arts For Africa list and you will be kept up-to-date on activities and achievements, with stories on how the children are using their art materials. 
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Happy Holly-days!

Elephants don’t forget and I didn’t either (at least, not too late).

Best wishes to all for happy holidays & a fantastic new year!IMG_4220

With love and creativity,


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Making an elephant a day for the month of November was a great experience. It made me examine the many looks of elephants and the various ways I could express them. All of my elephant art is based on photographs that I’ve taken in my travels, meeting elephants in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

So, based on these and many others I took, I made drawings, paintings and block prints. Here are a few.




I made you a really short video of the works from the last 2 weeks. You’ll see that I’m having an open studio next weekend and you’re invited! I’ll be giving away handmade block prints of elephants to the first 10 people who come each day! So be there or be square!

I couldn’t get the video to embed, so just click here & it will take you to the video.

An elephant doesn’t forget…

See you at the Open Studio in Prospect Park South, Brooklyn, 190 Marlborough Rd. (Q train Beverly Rd.) on Dec 12 & 13!

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open studioYou're Invited


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You’re invited & I hope you’ll come! It’s A Happening! With games, prize drawing, give aways. I’ll be giving away ART for FREE! The first 10 guests to come each day will win an original, hand-printed elephant block print!



Saturday & Sunday, December 12 & 13, 12noon – 5PM
190 Marlborough Road (betw. Beverly & Albemarle Rd) Brooklyn
Original Paintings, Giclee Prints, Hand-pulled Prints, Holiday Gifts, Refreshments
SALE Discounts on Many Paintings
FREE! To the first 10 guests each day
For more info, email: karenart99@yahoo.com
Check out the art at: www.karenfriedland.com
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With Halloween just past, I have thinking about scary. There are lots of scary things in the world: crime, violence, war, hate-the list goes on and on. But there also the things we personally find scary:ghost-299936 putting ourselves out there, doing new things, taking risks. These things are not life and death but in our mind’s eye, they loom large, can fill the room.

Being a creative person has led me to confront a lot of these fears.  I am constantly trying to put myself out there, to be seen by people, to have others view my form of communication-my artwork. It’s a very scary world out there when one is endeavoring to reach out. You lay yourself open to judgment and rejection. But neither of those are a fearsome as invisibility because that is when you have no voice. Invisibility cuts you off from the rest of the world. Like a ghost that can’t touch and can’t be heard. So that is one of my big fears. It’s what keeps me confronting judgment and rejection.

My other big, scary place is the “imposter syndrome.” (That term, so aptly coined, by Alyson Stanfield in her article that inspired this one.) This syndrome says “what if people find out I don’t really know what I’m doing?.” I’ve been in this place plenty of times. Sometimes, even as I’m finishing a work, I wonder how it became what it is. I don’t remember exactly what I did to create an effect. Ghost of Lost LoveOr more pertenently, I don’t know how the concept, the process, worked that created the piece. I realize I don’t know because the creations are not born out of the logical mind. They are born from the right brain, where all invention is, the non-linear side of the brain. So, figuring out what I’m doing defies analysis. In a certain way, as long as I am being creative in my work, I will never “know what I’m doing.”

Therefore. I urge all of you who have been caught up by the imposter syndrome to be reassured. Your beautifully creative, colorful, intuitive right brain is working overtime to keep your inventiveness a bit of a mystery. Because, really, if we knew exactly how to do it, we would be creating anything new?



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Making a work of art every day is very challenging. Having set a particular topic makes for an even more narrow focus. It’s really good to delve into a particular subject in depth but it requires more and more ingenuity as the month progresses. This said, I’ve made a new elephant every day except one when I was driving to PA & then went to a wedding.

Here we go with week 2:IMG_3814

This little guy sure knows how to toot his horn!


This elephant has an unusual background. It is made with alcohol inks on Yupo paper, which is more like a slick sheet of flexible plastic. Then this beauty was drawn on top with graphite.


I just love this elephant’s ears and the way the trunk wraps around. Based on a photo I took in Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa.


I also photographed these elephants. I printed them, created the composition & began to transfer them onto gessoed hardboard.


This is the transferred elephants after the backing paper is soaked and rolled off. This is just the beginning of this work of art.


This sweet elephant got a more abstract treatment. I just love the smile!


Bringing color to my smiling elephant with Caran D’ache water soluble crayons. I used the lines of the many wrinkles to create a carnival effect.

That is my collection of elephants for the second week. I’ve been asked, “why elephants”? My daughters and I have always been partial to elephants. Then the book “The Elephant Whisperer” by Lawrence Anthony made clear how sensitive, loyal and caring elephants are, in addition to being so powerful.

What do you think about elephants?

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One Week Of Art Every Day

November offers a challenge to artists who want to participate of Art Every Day Month. As I mentioned last time, I decided to rise to the challenge in a unique way by making it Elephant A Day month.

I was away last week in Golden, Colorado at a very busy Art Biz conference run by Alyson Stanfield, a guru in her field. I came back with lots of ideas for making my business better but I returned totally beat. I’m just starting to feel normal again after that intense meeting. One thing she emphasized was that the art needed to come first.

So I kept on making my elephants each day, even with little time to paint or post them. I want to catch you up on the first week now. After my little guy, tooting his horn, I made these.

Day 2 was a pink elephant day.

Day 2 was a pink elephant day.

Day 2 was a pink elephant day. He was done on paper using water soluble inktense blocks.

When An Elephant Goes Flying

When An Elephant Goes Flying

Day 3’s elephant was drawn completely from my imagination as I flew to Colorado. Just trying to picture how an elephant might get there if he made the trip.

Day 4

Day 4

Day 4 was the first in the conference. It was an intense day but Alyson(the conference leader) said she read a study affirming that drawing helped one’s focus. I took it to heart.

Black & gold day 5

Black & gold day 5

Blackie is a youngster, drawn on black paper, on the fly between the day and evening programs.

Doodles day 6

Doodles day 6

I was happy that we were provided with doodle pages in our workbook. Day 6 got Doodle, the elephant, as well as a couple of notes.

Day 7 Am I green?

Day 7 Am I green?

Day 7’s elephant is part of a larger painting I have been working on for a while. She has evolved over time to many colors. Right now she’s yellow & green. I think this may be her last incarnation but I make no promises.

So there you are, the first week of #elephantaday month (the first day is in the previous post). Which do you like best?

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